The massive stone headlands guard the cove from the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Winds from the north or south can destroy any chance of good surfing, so finding shelter like this is special. We follow the meandering path down through the forest of Western Red Cedar, Hemlock and Sitka Spruce. A skinny creek runs alongside our course nourishing the roots of these massive trees. When full with rain it will carry worn pebbles to the beach before losing itself to the sand and sea.
The trail ends at a high bluff. The water is deep blue, and the waves are good. We’ve been surfing for decades, so it doesn’t take us long to pick a spot where the cove best captures the subtle bend and refraction of swell.
Will deftly positions a pin tail he shaped into the pitch of a fun right. On his feet in an instant, he grabs the rail, tucks, and leans on a Greenough fin to drive in front of the pocket. I hoot as he follows the curvature of the sea floor beyond my sight. Bobbing in the cool water, the skin of a wetsuit insulates my body. A breeze blows offshore bringing the warmth of land and smell of the forest.
My oldest son is there. I’ve fretted over him for years, but now I don’t need to apply such a careful eye. Will’s partner, Andrea, points. I turn to see him riding a fun left. He manages the speed and spontaneity well. Quality time spent in lower latitudes helps make the moment.
That night Andrea makes Manhattans, and we talk of surfing in her home country of Peru. We make indefinite plans. Will and my wife, Julia, grill leeks and meat. Our two boys poke the fire. That night we lay on the cool sand of the beach. The stars are at our fingertips. Aliens may have landed, but we were in our tents by then.
The next day we arrive late to a different beach. A towering dune of sand 250 feet high morphs into a stone promontory. Prehistoric waves broke at its base. A lone haystack stands guard further out. Grey whales breach and blow. The surf is good. It is the smell of sunscreen again; surf wax; and neoprene. A hint of wind. We paddle out. Chances appear on the horizon and attempts are made. But a more determined wind deteriorates the conditions. The union is over.
We will try again tomorrow.